Thursday, June 14, 2012

Those Black Kids at School

"The Little children were constantly drilled in the principles of Garveyism, to such an extent that they expressed their black nationalist values at school. For example, on one morning following the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the national anthem at school, Wilfred informed his teacher that blacks also had their own anthem. Instructed to sing it, Wilfred complied: "It began with the words...'Ethiopia, the land of the free...' That creates some problems," Wilfred recalled, "because here is this little nigger that feels he is just equal to anybody else, he got his own little national anthem that he sings, and he's proud of it...It wasn't the way they wanted things to go."


"When Malcolm went to Mason, you could see a change in him," Wilfred recalled. "Some for the better, some for the worse...He would complain about some of the things the teachers would try to do - they would try to discourage him from taking courses that black people weren't suposed to take; in other words, keep him in his place." It hadn't bothered him particularly during the previous year when white students who had befriended him continued to call him nigger. But now Malcolm was keenly aware of the social distance between himself and others. An English teacher, Richard Kaminska, sharply discouraged him from becoming a lawyer. "You've got to be realistic about being a nigger," Kaminska advised him. "A lawyer - that's no realistic goal for a nigger...Why don't you plan on carpentry?" Malcolm's grades plummeted and his truculence increased. Within several months, he found himself expelled."

- Manning Marable, 'Malcolm X'

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